If you’ve decided this is the year you’re going back to school, you’re not alone: Working adults make up one of the fastest-growing groups among the more than 20 million people who will go to college.
But you’re more likely to be concerned about becoming a graduate, not just an enrollee.
That’s where devising a time-tested SMART plan (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) and choosing a university that will support you from start to finish, comes into play.
So, how do these plans work?
Making a resolution to earn your college degree is all well and good, but why are you doing it? Take some time to identify your main motivator and consider a career-specific bachelor’s or master’s degree.
Like many working adults, you have had the chance to get a feel for a career path or two (or more). Now, it’s time to dive into the details and determine what type of degree will help you advance in your current career, open up more employment options, or switch career paths altogether.
Why does this matter, you ask? Because having a clear picture of what you want to achieve will be vital to tracking your progress and keeping yourself motivated. After all, how do you know if you’re on-target if you don’t really know what the target is in the first place?
It’s easier to stay committed to your resolution when you start to see measurable results for your efforts and not lose interest after the first few weeks or months of the new year. The format of the degree program you choose can have a direct impact on your enthusiasm for learning and the progress you’ll make.
For instance, Western Governors University (WGU) offers competency-based education (CBE) programs that measure learning rather than seat time. This means that you can potentially accelerate more quickly through material you already know and watch as your completed credits pile up.
This is a particularly important feature for busy working adults, who don’t need the rigid class schedules associated with brick and mortar institutions holding them back. WGU clears obstacles from your path rather than creating by allowing you to capitalize on the knowledge and experience you already have.
A majority of people who make New Year’s Resolutions lose interest or get sidetracked by the time February rolls around. But there are a number of things you can do early in the year to establish positive momentum that will last until you’ve achieved your ultimate goal and earned your degree.
First, don’t get overwhelmed by focusing on the big picture from day one. Saying ‘I’m going to earn my degree’ can sound like a lofty, unachievable goal if you haven’t even started your first class yet.
Instead, focus on a small, daily habit that will help you establish a good routine for the rest of the year. For example, ‘I will get up 30 minutes earlier every day to do something for myself.’ That might mean studying your coursework, but it also might just be an extra 30 minutes to get other chores done so you have more time for school later.
Many professionals discover later in life where their true interests lie, both personally and professionally. Fortunately, we live in a world where career-changing and specialization is both common and achievable.
In fact, Dr. Karie Willyerd, vice president of learning and social adoption at SuccessFactors, remarked: “I’m amazed at the number of people who go back to school late in life and find they are highly successful, motivated students.”
The advantage you have is that an online degree from an accredited, respected university puts you in control of where the future will lead. WGU’s career-aligned bachelor’s and master’s degrees are specifically designed to empower working professionals to fit education into their busy lives. Plus, WGU’s curriculum is designed with input and guidance from industry leaders and employers, so you know you're learning what you need to know to be successful in your chosen field.
Attaching a timeline to your New Year’s Resolution makes it real. It also allows you to set incremental goals to keep you motivated and satisfied with your progress. This is important.
Charles Duhigg, author of the bestseller, The Power of Habit and a former New York Times writer, said, “Focus on small wins so you can make gradual progress.”
At WGU, not only will you have a graduation date circled on your calendar, you’ll have the power to make it happen sooner. Online education gives you an enormous amount of flexibility regarding how, when, and where you study.
The extra added bonus is that if you complete your studies faster, you’ll also reduce the cost of earning your degree!
Best of all, WGU starts new cohorts of students at the beginning of every month, so if you apply now, you’ll start the new year off with a bang and be on your way to achieving a lifelong goal.
Every year, thousands of motivated individuals discover Western Governors University and an approach to higher education that makes earning a highly respected degree realistically achievable on their own terms.
Will this be your year to make and keep a resolution that matters, both personally and professionally? Team up with WGU and get a SMART start to the new year!